Each business has a story. No matter if the business is a Goliath like Wal-Mart, or a local business owned by a couple or family, the business has roots in an idea. For each business owner, the story of their journey can range from monetary needs or the passion for a unique project. Each story is different though the reasons may remain the same. No matter the tale, the background behind each and every business is what fuels each entrepreneurship and brand.
To help smaller businesses
I was selling in a Fortune 500 company, one of several in my career, when I realized that the mid-sized and smaller companies I was calling on didn’t know how to sell and were, in most cases, in dire straits as a result. This ignited a passion for helping smaller businesses and struggling entrepreneurs to learn how to sell effectively as I had been taught and learned through the school of hard knocks and on-the-job-training. So I established my own company to consult with non-Fortune 500 companies on selling more successfully. I really love working with clients to blend tried-and-true selling techniques with the best apps and technology to help individuals and businesses sell more effectively. This has led to me writing two books on my selling process, creating more than 100 YouTube videos about selling and working with hundreds of national and local clients to help them create a selling organization and improve their selling techniques.
Thanks to Michael Krause, Sales Sense Solutions, Inc.
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To help small business owners with social media
started my business when I realized that I had all this knowledge and skill in using social media and I saw friends and family who own small businesses really struggle with social media. As a blogger with a strong social media following, I was always fielding questions and helping people get started. One day, it hit me – Hey, this is a service that could really benefit the small business community AND people would pay for that! And Ginger Snap Works was born!
Thanks to Amy Nowacoski, Ginger Snap Works
Carve out a niche in the online sports marketing world
We started our company Media Strike in the hopes of carving out a niche in the online sports marketing world. Our goal was to become the largest sports ad network in the industry and we accomplished that goal within the first year of operation. We now have a reach of over 32 million unique users placing us just above NFL.com’s collection of properties. My partner and I had noticed the ad networks we had worked for in the past took on too much staff and ran their organization with an inefficiency that would make your head spin. Our plan was to create a scaled down, lean ad network that would allow us to charge our clients much less than they were spending with the larger bloated ad networks we compete with, while offering our publishers higher revenue than they currently received. With the opportunities these days to outsource many key functions that would typically cost larger organizations 10x the amount we spend we have been able to find major savings that we have been able to pass onto our publishers while still remaining profitable. Starting a business is also an enormous amount of fun, and we learn about 20 new things a day you would never have access to working inside a larger organization.
Thanks to Chris Huse, Media-Strike
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To get to tell ‘good’ stories
I actually started out in Broadcast Journalism but after covering news for a few years, I felt telling “good” stories made me feel better about myself. News was so depressing and stressful to me, so I accepted a job in Community Affairs with a large cable company. After 15 years, the company’s focus started changing and most of my responsibilities in the community were being taken away. In 2009 I started my own Public Relations company for night and weekend work only, so I could keep the “creative” need that I so desired. I had two clients, one of our local zoos and a non-profit radio station. It was great because I could create public relations, marketing and promotional opportunities for these two clients and keep my day job which provided me a steady paycheck. I really wanted to go full time, but I was afraid to “jump off the cliff” so to speak – so at the end of 2011 I was laid off. I smiled and said, “Thank you” to the Vice President, went home and turned on the lights full time to Bennett Productions Unlimited. I have never looked back, as I am now a full service public relations company servicing about 15 clients doing what I love. My company is my life as I have fun every day, enjoy meeting people, connecting the dots and opening doors and making things happen! “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius.
Thanks to Kelly Bennett, Bennett Productions Unlimited, LLC
Having the chance to use my skills in a more creative way
I started my business in 2010 after 15 years in marketing on the agency, freelance, and corporate sides. I knew I had more to offer than my very limited corporate job description allowed, and my first action was to begin looking elsewhere. Not finding any jobs that really appealed, I simply decided to create my own. Today, as the CEO of Resonance Content Marketing, I have the flexibility to keep up with the changing demands of the marketing environment and to develop creative ways of helping my clients adapt. It was the best move I ever made!
Thanks to Rachel Parker, Resonance Content Marketing
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Making a new start
I was a 29 year old nurse educator, with a desire to have a business of my own – something that would marry my nursing and business. I was a newlywed with no extra money, so it was a dream, but without substance. I went into work one day and was called into the office of my boss. I sat down across the desk from her, and immediately knew that something wasn’t right. She fired me – based on a lie told by a co-worker – without giving me the opportunity to defend myself. I cried all the way home and immediately called my husband and my Dad (my mentor). Well, my husband didn’t know what to say, but my Dad said, “Well, you wanted to start your own business, here’s your chance. Dry your eyes and let’s go find you an office”. That day I signed the lease of my new office and started my home health agency – and it didn’t even have a name yet! That firing was one of the best things that ever happened to me and the start of my business. 12 years later I was named Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year.
Thanks to Dr. Cherie C. Whiting
Getting to control my destiny
I started my business for a few reasons. First, as a military spouse that has gone through countless PCS moves and had trouble over and over again getting a new job, I decided that I wanted to be in control of my destiny. I worked for another company for almost 4 years when I decided to branch out and start my own company. This line of work allows me to not only care for my eight year old son and be there for him every day, but also gives me the flexibility with my time to give back to the military community through volunteering and fundraising opportunities. My company is a virtual assistant company for real estate professionals that are looking for the best of the best in the virtual assisting industry to help with their admin tasks. Each time I talk to these agents and help them to decide the best way to make their business grow I feel empowered and like I have made a difference. My team works hard to take some of the admin costs off of these agents without the added costs of hiring an in-house employee. I strive to provide service to my clients by using the largest untapped workforce out there, military spouses and stay at home mom’s. There’s nothing better each day than knowing that you were able to help another military spouse or stay at home mom to care for their family’s needs while also working for a company that they are proud to be part of. Our entire team has made it our mission to provide quality services that any agent out there would be proud to tell those in their networks about. Being able to say that you have a military spouse or a stay at home mom doing your work gives so many great pride because they feel like they are giving back to our country, something that is so important to all of our clients.
Thanks to Kelly K. Johnson, Kelly Johnson Virtual Assistant Services
After seeing a need in the business world
I started this internet marketing business after seeing a need for this type of work in small businesses across all industries. Business owners are too busy to keep up with the constant changing algorithms of Facebook, Twitter, Google. There was a need for an affordable outsourced solution that could not only keep up with the changes but implement a strategic local marketing plan for their business. Our company was developed out of this need. We have been able to partner with these small businesses and help them carve out their space in our 21st century online business world. Our services pay for themselves in return of more businesses from online customers and retention of repeat business from online efforts.
Thanks to Ken Hamilton, Hamilton Marketing Group
To create a smarter workplace
I think I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurial adventures. Back in 2009, I founded Mavenlink along with Roger Neel and Sean Crafts, both of whom worked with me at InQuira, with the goal of creating a smarter workplace. After 20 years as a consultant at Accenture, I had a great understanding of the major workforce and technology trends occurring in business. More companies were forming collaborative networks of specialized providers in order to be more agile and flexible with their businesses. Workforce collaboration tools were limited in their ability to address both the entire internal and external workforces. Managing an external workforce creates many challenges that are made even more complex when those relationships are also managed in an online environment. The solution required from our technology was far more expansive and complex that we ever anticipated. After months of development and iteration, the Mavenlink platform launched in beta in 2009. Six months later, Mavenlink had its first general product release in January of 2010. In less than 3 years, more than 300,000 businesses go to Mavenlink to work. We’re adding new features every week, often at the request of our users, to create a singular online collaboration tool for the today’s new, hybrid workforce.
Thanks to Ray Grainger, Mavenlink
To make a difference in the world
It sounds cliché, but it is true. When I was young, I wanted to make a difference in the world; I wanted to impact the course of humanity in some way. It was idealistic, but it was authentic-and it continues to be my ongoing, motivating goal. I started my company by combining my strengths-technology, business, and people-to create Optimal Networks, an IT management, support, and consulting company in Rockville MD in 1991. Optimal Networks’ service orientation and culture help our clients, facilitate our values and mission, support our hiring processes, and drive profit and growth. We help companies support their business goals through the use of technology and that is how we are making a difference. Our product is aligned with our purpose and, as such, has created enhanced employee and client retention rates and bottom line profits.
Thanks to Heinan Landa, Optimal Networks
To help other couples like us make the most of life before kids
So there we were, reflecting on our life as a couple. Most of our friends had married and immediately procreated – seemingly conceiving on the wedding night – and migrated deep into the “best school districts”, rarely to be seen again. Others were still single, bouncing from meat market club to bar, still playing the game. Lingering in singlehood, or blasting into parentdom, many of our friends were in a vastly different life stage than us. Every year more of us are choosing to slow things down – having kids later or not having them at all – soaking up life as a couple with the time, energy, and resources to focus on career, setting the foundation for the future, and simply experiencing the freedom of life now without the commitment of kids. We looked around and asked ourselves the obvious question… every major lifestage and demographic has resources, how about us? It was clear that we, living the Dual Income No Kids lifestyle, deserved more; more ways to meet each other, discover stuff we want to do, and share opportunities and information within our community. We needed a home, a destination and a resource to make the most of this time in our life. Like millennial hippies, we moved West to San Francisco, joining with DINKs and FODs (Friends of…) that believed in the cause to establish home base for this revolution, to build the platform for this uprising… and DINKlife was born.
Thanks to Katelyn Watson & Cory Jones, DINKlife
Trying something new
In 2008 the financial markets were taking a dive. I managed a national sales team for an education finance company. I knew we’d need to downsize and, eventually, our team would be farmed out to other company divisions or let go. In years prior, I’d often thought about products or services that I wanted or needed but couldn’t find. One of these included a gift delivery option that was something a bit more than a card…something that could be personalized and would last for more than a week. I longed for something small, not expensive, maybe kitchy that I could send to men and women – not flowers that wilt and not goodies that add to the waistline. My aha moment came when I realized I could create a gift delivery company that would accomplish my list of “wants.” I created Sock Grams so that the gift giver can search our website for crazy novelty socks that come in so many patterns, there’s one that is sure to fit the recipients interests. They can then personalize a greeting card and we’ll gift wrap and ship the lot in a showy Mylar envelope! All for much less than the cost of sending flowers or a goody basket. Plus they last. Also, while I’ve moved on from corporate financial sales, I’m finding that I incorporate many of the skills I used before and am invigorated each day with the new things I’ve learned or need to learn.
Thanks to Heather McGee, Sock Grams
One too many layoffs
The short answer to the “why” of starting a business is, “one too many layoffs.” After a layoff from a great company where I was doing a great job, I lost my job to downsizing, rightsizing, call it what you will. Soon thereafter while learning to swim again in the “in between” deep waters, the same company came after me asking me to do some contract work. I said yes, thinking this might be a temporary thing until I found my “real job.” Well, during my networking, I network like crazy, I found another company that needed some contract work. Then another and another popped up until I told my patient wife, “I may be on to something here.” And, while I still could see myself working for “da man” at some future point, I’ve enjoyed the risk diversification of having several clients at one time. Never a dull moment for the entrepreneur in me.
Thanks to John Pilmer, PilmerPR
Grew frustrated with the lack of ethics in the industry
I started ArkNet Media as a new college graduate at age 22. Originally a nightlife promoter in New York City, I grew frustrated with the lack of ethics in that industry. Instead, I planned to launch a discount magazine subscription e-commerce site with a tremendous partnership with Synapse, a Time Inc. company. They gave a very young kid a chance to build a business with almost no funding and no experience in the magazine world – a highly competitive space that was claimed to be a “melting iceberg” due to the tsunami of the digital world. Something that started out as a one-man operation has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise that owns and operates a wide array of successful online properties. ArkNet Media now operates an innovative portfolio of companies all in different verticals managed by a lean team of individuals with unique skills and huge talent.
Thanks to Ryan Alovis, ArkNet
To heal organizational life one leader at a time
Having finished a Master’s in Counseling and a Master’s in Human Resources I went to work in the corporate world with big dreams. I quickly discovered that the leadership I read about in books was not the same animal in the office. Too often it seemed leaders were acting out something akin to dysfunctional family dynamics. I realized that many people were promoted into higher level roles because of a primary skill set that had nothing to do with leadership, however once into the new role they didn’t need the skills that brought them there, they desperately needed something they didn’t have. Consequences ranged on a scale from the benign to drastically damaging. Some leaders were invisible and the department staff was left to fend for themselves. In other cases, the leader seemed to openly enjoy wrecking havoc on unassuming staff trying to get through a day at the office. Both groups of employees would go home at night wondering why they felt like a tiger had chased them all day. It was then that I discovered my mission to improve the lives of people dedicating the bulk of their living hours to an organization. There had to be a way to change the behaviors of those in charge. I created a business called Thrive! Im+Powered Leader and have spent thousands of hours as an Executive Coach helping leaders enhance their skills, uncover hidden strengths, identify blind spots and improve the workings of daily life inside organizations.
Thanks to Michelle Rios
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Getting to teach a more willing audience
Improving Communications is a training business built on the idea that when people invest in communication skills training for their own organization, they develop a more pleasant workplace environment and save money at the same time. When written correspondence comes from a company, and it’s poorly written (or poorly stated), it makes the business look bad (reduced credibility, lower sales more unhappiness). Frustrated with teaching English to high school students in the inner city, I wanted to teach to a more willing audience. The people who attend my classes know that they need the skills, and work hard to develop them. People who take Improving Communications classes want a greater command over their writing, public speaking, customer service, and leadership skills. They attend classes, get the information, apply it, and excel in their careers with it!
Thanks to Richard J. Atkins, Improving Communications
Providing parents the childcare they deserve
Before starting my own business, I worked as a babysitting coordinator at childcare company for almost 2 years. During that time, I realized that if I were to run a babysitting agency on my own, I could truly focus all my efforts on providing parents with the childcare they deserve. I decided to start my own agency, so I could provide parents with a personalized and highly efficient service. A service where parents and I are able to develop a relationship, where I can give parents the attention they deserve, and the reliability they crave. I wanted to give parents in the neighborhood the type of service I would trust and use if I had children. Running this agency, and knowing I am helping parents get to work, to important appointments, or to a well-deserved date night, makes me feel like I am doing something right. Hopefully, they feel the same way!
Thanks to Cristina Twigg, Easy Care Sitters
To help secure more places
I started my security guard company because we weren’t servicing the needs of everyone. I found that the company I worked for didn’t help with all our customers’ needs as they advertised. One night I received a call from an elderly woman who was looking for a guard to stand watch and protect her at her home for a night. Her husband had just gone out of town, and her daughter would not be able to go the home until the following day. Her neighbors had been recently burglarized, so she felt unsafe being home alone. I thought to myself, “How can everyone else get a security guard whenever they need one?” In June 2010 guardNOW opened and expanded its security service to help everyday people find a security guard for 24 hour a day service. Within 12 months I had 4 franchises, two in California and two in New York and plan to expand nationwide to help people with needs that other security guard services won’t cover such as fumigation of your home, helping a roommate or spouse move out or gift theft at your wedding. I get excited every time I get a call for an irregular job, lets me know people know why I started my company.
Thanks to Zabi Kator, guardNOW
To appease my internal battles
After my first day at my very first job at the age of 16, I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone for the rest of my life. Adhering to someone else’s schedule and pursuing someone else’s dream just felt wrong in my heart. Although at the time, I had no idea what it would be, I was always seeking that one opportunity to quit the 9-5 and work on my own terms. A few business ventures later, I ended up starting my resume writing business in 2008. I create opportunities for job seekers by providing self-marketing tools designed to land more interviews and compete in today’s job market. Today, I am excited to be a business owner and I no longer struggle with the notion of wasting my life carrying out someone else’s vision.
Thanks to Melanie L. Denny, Resume Evolution
To make people’s lives better in the real world
Everything we do involves other people. Whether looking for a job, needing a haircut, wanting to play basketball, or any number of things, life is about connecting and engaging with new people. Yet it’s really difficult meeting the right people. We have dating websites for dating, and Facebook for our existing friends’ circle, but where do we go when we want to meet new people? At The Pool was started to help build stronger communities, connect people offline for face-to-face interaction, and to make our real lives more social. The good that can come from connecting alumni living across the country or potential business partners who would never otherwise have met is a huge motivation. We started At The Pool to make people’s lives better in the real world.
Thanks to Alex Capecelatro, At The Pool
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To give options for creative and beautiful gifts
I was inspired to develop the Corky Kouture brand because I was looking for a unique and surprising way to gift my very beautiful and glamorous friend her favorite bottle of champagne and a gift card to her favorite boutique in an all in one dazzling packaging system. She was hosting her 50th birthday bash and I wanted to wow her with my fabulous find that was unlike any other package she received. I looked online, in stores, boutiques, everywhere and could not find what I envisioned in my mind. While there were some nice things in the market, they just didn’t have the versatility I was looking for. So, I literally went home and just started sketching which led to finding a sewing contractor and within a couple of years the Corky Kouture brand was born. I created Corky Kouture so that one could gift it in or out of the box for use as a keepsake or a re-giftable. The box is customizable to reflect any event, occasion or theme. The bag holds beverages of all varieties such as champagne, wine, liquor, sparkling juices, or essentially anything round along with an attached crystallized gift holder that one can place gift cards, money, jewelry, baby’s first tooth, locket of hair, custom card or any other memento. I also wanted Corky Kouture to be hassle free and easy for anyone (including men) to present a beautifully “wrapped package” that anyone who received it would be excited by from the moment of presentation without ruining the packaging. I have many samples of various designs, sizes, themes, colors and extensions of the brand that I hope to bring out in the near future because with so many celebrations in life to attend and enjoy, one can never have enough ways to “wrap” a gift.
Thanks to Lisa Riedel, Corky Kouture
Because I wanted control over my life
I started my own business because I wanted control over my own life, well-being and do what I love doing. I had studied psychology at university. Yet I am also naturally creative and have a love for the arts. Most importantly I love uncovering talents and love to see them succeed, even more so if I can help them do so. I set up my eponymous company Melanie Jones PR in October 2010. Having worked in the fashion industry naturally my first few clients were found within this field and still dominate my clientele. I have helped raised their profiles nationally and internationally. Almost two-and-half years into it I haven’t looked back. It is an unpredictable field involving a lot of work yet also most rewarding, fulfilling and fun. I have helped people find their footing within the industry. I still only rely on word by mouth. My clients appreciate my down-to-earth holistic approach , transparency and integrity that I bring to their business or their brand. I am passionately interested in their success so their budgets are carefully and realistically considered and managed. In this current economic climate it maybe easy to through ethics and morals into the wind but now more than ever business need pr and marketing to carry them through and contribute to remaining and/or becoming sustainable through realistic solutions and planning.
Thanks to Melanie Jones, Melanie Jones PR
Because fashion is an extension of everyone’s personality
As much as I love and I am connected to Germany I am also undeniably connected to the culture of parents and our country of origin, Uganda. I never quite found clothing that seemed to have that same fusion in its identity and authenticity that expressed my cultural influences visually. I have witnessed the fashion landscapes in London and New York that appeared far more diverse and excepting. My love for fashion came from being surrounded by fashion throughout my childhood, as my mother owned her own boutique. During the summer of 2011 I started working on my vision of Africa Fashion Day Berlin and in that pioneered it as a platform for designers of the African Diaspora (of African origin living in anywhere in the world). I set up my company Apya Productions in 2012 and managed some milestones through celebrity support and televised features as well as published editorial in the build-up to our first production. African Fashion is as diverse as the continent itself. Most people do not know that African Fashion can be High End and Made in Africa products also have the same quality like Made in Germany products. To put it in relation to expect traditional colourful wear or tribal wear only from Africans would be like the rest of the world expecting dirndl and lederhosen to be worn only in Germany. On the 15th of January 2013 the inaugural Africa Fashion Day Berlin presents Urban Fashion Night took place in the frame of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. Not a mean feat for a first timer. These are international designers designing for a global market. German consumers have evolved to savvy cosmopolitan clients that embrace colour, boldness and individually now more than ever before and this trend has only just begun.
Thanks to Beatrace Oola, Africa Fashion Day Berlin
To do what I love and help other people
After 18 months of travel (on the lowest budget imaginable!) the main thing I wanted once I got home was to keep that freedom that I felt within me for those 18 months. Starting my business has given me that. Not only am I doing something I love but I am also helping others. As it has been only 2 months since we have launched, money is tight but I learned to be frugal on the road! I could have never returned home and began a job I hated like I had before and even though the economy is in a poor state starting my own business was the best thing I could have done. Even if this fails (which it won’t!) I will just start something else. Once you have started on your own you never go back to employment. I encourage anyone out there who wants to start a business to go for it.
Thanks to Paul Farrugia, GlobalHelpSwap
Because I was unimpressed with networking events
I started my business after I had attended a few networking events in New York city and I was unimpressed. Other than sheer numbers of people, these events had nothing to do with networking. They were hard sales events – meaning everybody was there trying to direct sell you something. I quickly realized what was missing, an atmosphere and a culture to these events and of course a quality level. So I set out and created a community of real business owners, professionals and sales people where they can meet in person at social events with a business purpose. I wanted to make networking fun, and by the success and testimonials of our members, we certainly have. Our events are also educational and we focus on furthering our culture of a fun environment that is really about getting to know a person and connecting on that social level first. It is an old adage but you really do business with people you like, and we build that foundation through our events.
Thanks to Scott Eisenberg, Swap The Biz